City of Casper launches website promoting penny tax

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

The city of Casper launched a new website Wednesday called One Cent Process, the latest in its campaign to renew the fifth-cent sales tax.

The tax was first passed by Natrona County voters in 1974 as an optional one-cent general purpose sales tax on top of the state four-cent sales tax per dollar on purchases.

It has been reinstated every four years ever since, often by as much as 58 percent of voters. But city officials do not plan on taking that for granted.

“We’re kind of alone in the world, we are surrounded by a two-and-a-half hour wilderness moat that protects us from the rest of the world, so we’ve got to provide amenities here for our citizens,” City Manager John Patterson said at a Wednesday media conference.

In the past, the city has relied on surveys sent in water bills and public forums to gather public opinion on what projects should be funded through the penny tax. While those avenues for feedback are still in play this go-round, the website offers Natrona County residents a chance to vote in their pajamas, using an e-mail account.

After gathering public input, the top priority projects picked by Natrona County voters will be listed on the website. In this last cycle, the council designated about 65 percent of funds to high priority projects and 23 percent to medium priority projects.

Patterson emphasized the one-cent tax is the only tax Natrona County really controls.

“That 1.2 cents from the four cents goes to operating needs, not capital investment,” Patterson said. “Imagine what this city would look like without that one-cent tax.”

The first one-cent funds were allocated to construct the Casper City Hall, the Hall of Justice and Fire Station No. 1. Since then, they have helped build museums, pools, recreation buildings and walking trails among other projects. The high priority areas, though, have always been public safety and infrastructure.

During the past four years, 52 percent of the $15 million a year paid to city coffer from the penny tax went to water, sewer and street projects.